I can honestly say that not one single time in my life have I had the desire to pack only a carry-on suitcase when traveling.  Instead, I opt for the larger-than-life mondo bag that usually ends up weighing well over the regulation 50 pounds.  Let me tell you, its not fun or cute to be pulling things out of your suitcase and cramming in your purse at the check-in counter, because 99% of the time you are going to show off some undies to the disgruntled line behind you.

Last month, I took a trip to Atlanta for the World Natural Hair Show and my travel partner strolls in with the smallest of small suitcases.  After grilling her on what on earth she was thinking, I find out that not only does she normally just carry-on, but last year she did an eight city tour with only this minuscule excuse for a piece of luggage.  This is how I decided to bite the bullet.  I normally carry with me on each trip no less than 12 pounds in beauty products alone.  On top of that, I pack clothing like there may be an apocalyptic crisis while I'm traveling; you can never be over-prepared, right? My challenge to myself for my trip to San Francisco this weekend was to fit everything in my measly carry-on.

This challenge is multi-faceted, so please let me explain how serious it really is.  First, I usually forget something super-important when traveling, so this adds to the anxiety.  Second, I live in Austin which is currently a very comfortable (for me) temperature of 90 degrees.  Word on the street is that San Francisco is a bit chillier in the summer, which means there could be a 30 degree difference.  Do you have any idea how hard it is to pack light when you are thinking in layers?  Finally, I am a beauty product/hair product junkie; working for NaturallyCurly means that I have a sick abundance of beauty and hair products that go where I go…no matter what.

So packing my clothes was a little tricky but I thought back to all of my "training" of reading Glamour magazine where they show you one dress and five ways to wear it.  I basically had to do this for everything I packed.  Everything had to be versatile and layer-friendly.  Don't get me wrong, there are some random items that I don't remember throwing in, but maybe that was the old packer in me showing itself.  I took two pairs of shoes plus the sandals that I'm wearing.  Luckily, I am not a fan of high-heels, and flats are way easier to pack.

Now onto the important part: beauty products.  This limited space obviously meant that my giant expandable, eyeshadow, lip gloss, blush, eye liner, swiss army knife, life preserver of a Sephora kit would have to stay at home.  I caught myself looking wistfully at this trusty side-kick while I was sorting through my makeup.  This was probably the hardest part of the process.  But, I was determined to finish the challenge (I thought multiple times about ditching the whole thing at the last minute).  After much editing, I took the essentials: moisturizer, eye drops (always a life-saver after a long night), tinted moisturizer, mascara, neutral shadow, and liner.  Luckily, I will be staying with a girlfriend of mine, so anything I may need in the makeup department, she's got me covered.

Like I said, I am at times overwhelmed with how many hair products I have in my arsenal, so it makes packing a bit tricky.  Also, I have never been to the Bay Area and have no idea what the weather is like or what it will do to my curls!  I didn't mention that I am a lazy traveler, which means I will probably never buy the plastic TSA regulated bottles to put products in, so I actively seek out samples in almost everything just for traveling.  I got my mits on some Ouidad Climate Control samples last week and you better believe that they are coming on this trip with me.  My hostess has a blow dryer, and I have my Hand Dry Hair Gloves just in case the dryer situation doesn't work out.

Ultimately, I learned that you can pack smart if you try.  Being a girl means getting to overpack and be obsessed with beauty products, but its a completely liberating feeling to know that all you need in life fits into this tiny square roller-bag.  I still enjoy bringing 15 different outfit choices for a two-night stay somewhere, but now I know I don't have to!